1 Kings 22:29-53: Micaiah's Prophecy Fulfilled
As we left the story last week, two kings were starting with an army against the city of Ramoth-gilead, in the country east of Jordan, to try to take the city back from the Syrians who had captured it and kept it. Who were the two kings? The prophets had been asked about this war on which the two kings were starting. What had they said? What had Micaiah said, speaking truly from the Lord?
Let us read the story of the battle: the command which the king of Syria had given to his men; how Jehoshaphat was in danger; how Ahab was wounded by a chance arrow, and though he was stayed up in his chariot, died at evening. The word was passed through the army, "Every man to his city, and every man to his own country." It was this which had been shown to Micaiah, when he said, "I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the Lord said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace." The prophecy which Elijah had spoken, that dogs should lick Ahab's blood (1 Kings 21:19), was in part fulfilled when the king's chariot and armor were washed in the pool of Samaria, where the dogs lapped. See also 2 Kings 9:24-26.
Who was Jehoshaphat who was with Ahab in this battle at Ramoth-gilead? He was the king of Judah, and his home was in Jerusalem. For eighteen years these two kings were ruling in their two kingdoms side by side. (1 Kings 16:29; 22:41-42) Jehoshaphat was the son of Asa. Read about Asa in 1 Kings 15:9-24. He was faithful to the Lord; he destroyed the idols and put away evil doers; but worship still continued in high places, besides at the Lord's temple, and in other ways we see that though Asa was a good king he was weak.
Jehoshaphat was like his father and was a good king. We have already seen how he insisted that the Lord's message should be heard before they went to battle. But high places were still used for worship. It is also said that ships which he built as Solomon had done on the Red Sea, were broken and never went on their voyage for gold. Do you remember about Solomon's ships? Other things are told about Jehoshaphat in 2 Chron. 17-20, which add to the picture of his strength and riches; but while these are interesting as things that were remembered about the king, they are not a part of the Lord's Word, and do not contain a spiritual lesson.
Besides reviewing recent lessons, we must often during the year review the whole Old-Testament story. Draw a line on the blackboard, for the thread of the story. Divide it into sections for the general divisions of the story: 1 Abraham to Joseph; 2 bondage and journey to Canaan; 3 the conquest; 4 the judges; 5 the first three kings; 6 the divided kingdom. Name an incident here and there in the story, or a person, or read a striking verse, and let the children tell in which section of the line, and in what part of the section, to make a mark to represent it.
Crossing the Red Sea. Crossing the Jordan. Buying the cave in Hebron. Spying out the land. Building the tabernacle. Building the temple. Water from the rock. Gideon's soldiers drinking. David pursued by Saul. Golden calf at Sinai. Golden calves at Bethel and Dan. Lot. Goliath. Balaam. Samson. Caleb. Ben-hadad. Jonathan. Benjamin. Aaron. "Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth." "Thou shalt not kill." "There is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few." "Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward." "Be strong and of a good courage." "The God that answereth by fire, let Him be God." "She came to prove him with hard questions." "God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering." "A ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven." "But I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts." "Tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks." "The Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers."
The story of the battle in which Jehoshaphat was safe, but Ahab was not protected by his disguise, is interesting to consider. We may see in it the lesson that the Lord's protection attends a good and innocent purpose even when it is led astray by false thinking.
The washing of Ahab's chariot in the pool of Samaria represents the examination of the thought by the standard of the Lord's truth, to free it of all that belongs to the false, misleading spirit. The condemnation of that false spirit, as belonging to the vile love of evil pleasures, is represented by the licking of the blood of Ahab by the dogs; for dogs in a bad sense represent that love. On the meaning of washing, see A. 3147; chariot, A. 8215; Samaria, A. 4720; dogs, A. 7784, 9231.
We read of the ivory house which Ahab made. Solomon's throne of ivory and gold represents the truth and goodness of a perfect rule. The teeth, which open and examine the food, represent the fixed standards of right by which we test what is offered for our acceptance. The tusks of the elephant, from which ivory comes, represent a strong development of such principles of right, by which examination is made and fraud is exposed and condemned. A house represents a personís own mind, as in Matt. 12:44. The building of an ivory house represents the development of the rational mind. (E. 253, 1146)
There is something sad in this story of Jehoshaphat, a good king who represents a good motive in the heart, leagued with Ahab, a bad king who represents false understanding which gives its power to the excusing of evil pleasure. We may think of Asa and Jehoshaphat, good kings of Judah who made league with Ben-hadad and with Ahab, as representing a good motive, but weak because it lacks a strong, true understanding with which to join itself in a genuinely good and useful life. The weakness of a good purpose from this cause was represented by Ahab's being lame in his feet. It would seem to be represented in this chapter by there being no king in Edom in those days; for a king represents strong, guiding truth, and Edom in a good sense represents goodness on the plane of natural life. It is represented also by the breaking of Jehoshaphat's ships so that they never sail for gold; for ships represent an intellectual power, which here is too weak to lead to the highest power. (A. 8314; E. 514)